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Conserving Canada’s Wetlands

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Mapping the wetlands within the Montreal Metropolitan Community

Wetland north of Île-Bizard

A tool to better plan land development launched

Montreal, January 31, 2011 – Aware of the considerable urban pressure placed in recent years on the territory of the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC), Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has mapped the wetlands in this area. Promoters, elected officials and land developers will now be able to better integrate wetlands into development plans, prevent their disappearance and foster the sustainable management of these important  components of the environment.

With the support of the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks (MDDEP), Ducks Unlimited Canada has succeeded in mapping more than 11,000 wetlands totalling nearly 21,000 hectares, roughly the equivalent in size to Laval Island or 36,000 football fields. The map accurately shows wetlands of at least 0.3 hectares in  high-pressure urban areas.

Ducks Unlimited Canada has developed knowledge tools for locating wetlands, thus providing all regional stakeholders with a common source of information to help them avoid mistakes in planning that could harm these ecosystems. The data can be consulted at www.canardsquebec.ca/outils/cmm.

The launch of the map coincides with World Wetlands Day to be celebrated on February 2, 2011. Wetlands and adjacent highlands are essential components of urban landscapes, whether it be for water management, biological diversity or simply to offset the heat-island effect.

“This new information and these tools are not intended to shield this land from development, but rather to plan better-adapted development and ensure true sustainable development. It is not too late to act, but we have to realize that wetlands are fragile and vulnerable to urban pressure,” stated Bernard Filion, Quebec Director of Ducks Unlimited Canada. He also reiterated that between 70% and 90% of wetlands in Quebec urban zones have already disappeared, and that this trend must be halted.

For his part, Pierre Arcand, Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks, praised the initiative, which is part of a series of actions undertaken by the Quebec government and its partners to safeguard biodiversity. “When we know the role of wetlands in the environment and the economy, we understand the importance of protecting them and ensuring their sustainable management. Upstream action must therefore be taken to prevent the deterioration and disappearance of these precious ecosystems. It is in this spirit that the mapping project was developed. Conservation organizations, developers, and municipal and governmental bodies now have at their disposal a cutting-edge tool to support land-use planning and development with a focus on sustainable development,” said the Minister.

A comprehensive and complementary approach

Through the modern technology of 3D photo-interpretation, wetlands larger than 0.3 hectares in the MMC region were identified using recent, high-resolution digital aerial photos. This project is part of a broader process of mapping all of the Saint Lawrence Lowlands, which will require investments of $2.2 million over four years, including  $500,000 for the Montreal Metropolitan Community. Outside the MMC area, Ducks Unlimited Canada will map wetlands measuring at least 0.5 hectares.

Ducks Unlimited Canada emphasized that the information made public adds to knowledge already acquired and actions undertaken by various local groups in the MMC area. In addition to assistance from the MDDEP, Ducks Unlimited was able to count on financial support from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Environment Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Bernard Filion
Quebec Director of Ducks Unlimited Canada
Telephone: 418 623-1650, extension 15

Sarah Shirley
Press Agent
Office of the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks
Telephone: 418 521-3911For information or interviews:

Marie-Ève Plamondon
HKDP Communications and Public Affairs
Telephone: 418 523-3352, extension 228
Email: meplamondon@hkdp.qc.ca
Cell phone: 418 580-0040

Media Relations
Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks
Telephone: 418 521-3991